19-Mar-2004 -- Imagine one of the largest, if not THE largest, gathering of geographers on the planet and not one geographer visiting a confluence. Determined not to let that happen, I, Joseph Kerski, Geographer, successfully visited 40 North, 76 West, during the annual meeting of the Association of American Geographers. This five-day meeting in Philadelphia marked the 100th Anniversary of the Association of American Geographers, founded in the same city in 1904. The meeting attracted over 5,000 geographers from academia, government, and business. I was determined that at least one of them would visit a confluence. This would make up for the fact that I was too busy at the meeting to attend any of the excellent field trips scheduled. I had already set a precedent, having visited 30 North 90 West during the 2003 AAG meeting in Louisiana USA.
During the 2002 Philadelphia conference for the National Council for Geographic Education, I had already visited the nearest confluence, that of 40 North 75 West. Therefore, I rented a car and headed to 40 North 76 West. I chose to exit the city along the Lincoln Highway, US 30, a highway that C.W. McCall dubbed "A million memories long and two lanes wide" in his song "Old 30." This allowed me to view an ever-changing landscape of neighborhoods followed by suburbia and, finally, the beautiful southeast Pennsylvania hills. One sees so much more when one gets off the interstate highways!
After two hours of driving, I drove north on State Highway 897 from Gap, Pennsylvania, and southeast along Hoffmeier Road to the home nearest the confluence, arriving just before noon local time. I was thankful that the homeowner held her dogs at bay when she answered my knock. She granted access permission, indicating that she was not the landowner, but she did not mind. She also recalled the previous visitor. The region had received about 12 cm of snow the day before, but the air was pleasant, about 12
degrees C. I plodded through slush and mud up the trail to 76 West, thinking at first that the confluence might lie in the woods to the north. However, before the treeline, I found the confluence, confirming the location of the first visitor. I arrived at the confluence at noon, local time.
The confluence lies on a slope of about 8 degrees toward the west, about 5 meters south of the treeline, in a field of corn. This area is rural, but fairly densely populated, and I could see at least a dozen houses from the confluence. I could also see a bit of the village of Gap. About 20% of the land in this area is in forest, 20% in towns, and 60% in crop and grazing land. The farthest view
was toward the northwest. I observed the sky changing from sunny to cloudy and back again in the span of minutes. I had arrived on the last day of winter and it was quite pleasant. This would be a beautiful spot to return to in late spring or summer. I remained at the site about 25 minutes.
I had previously been to 40 North three times: At 75 West, 105 West, and 120 West. Each site had been unique--golf course, hilly countryside, high plains, and arid mountain. I had also been to 76 West during the previous year, at 37 North in Virginia. During most of my confluence visits, some sort of unexpected adventure lies in wait, but this time, I simply walked back to the vehicle, waving at
the landowner who appeared in the doorway. After taking several additional photographs of the site from a distance, I headed West on US 30 to 40 North 77 West. C.W. McCall's song was ringing in my ears, "Before I take that exit to the highway in the sky, I'm going to take Old 30 one more time."